Morning 9: Kuchar: “The things my grandma was hearing were really tough” | Kendra Little | Tiger’s Virginia course DOA?

1. Diaz ahead
AP report…”Roberto Diaz shot a 9-under 62 on Thursday to take the first-round lead in the John Deere Classic.”
  • “Playing in the final group of the day off the first tee, the 32-year-old Mexican player birdied four of the first five holes, eagled the par-5 10th and birdied three of the last five in the bogey-free round at TPC Deere Run. He took the lead with a 12-foot birdie putt on the par-3 16th.”
  • “…Americans Adam Long and Russell Henley were two strokes back. Martin Laird was another stroke back at 65 with Ryan Palmer, Andrew Landry, Vaughn Taylor, Zack Sucher and Ryan Blaum.”

Full piece.

Also worth noting for those invested: Ho Sung Choi fired an opening-round 71, which is currently one stroke off the cut line.
2. A smiling American in Scotland
While the second round is well under way, here’s what happened in the first…
AP report…”Matt Kuchar shot an 8-under 63 on Thursday to share the lead with three players in a low-scoring opening round at the Scottish Open.”
  • “Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas, the highest-ranked players in the field, opened with 67s – a score only slightly better than the field average on a day when 118 players broke par at The Renaissance Club, which was softened by heavy early-morning rain.”
  • “Kuchar, who has two previous top-four finishes at the Scottish Open, made two eagles on his first nine and ran off four birdies in five holes to reach 9 under before bogeying his last hole of the day, the par-3 ninth.”

Full piece.

3. A John Deere stalwart struggles
Danny Lawhon, Des Moines Register, syndicated in Golfweek… “…the past 14 months might have been the most frustrating of the Cedar Rapids native’s professional career. He’s got just one top-10 finish in that span, and he hasn’t finished better than 16th this calendar year.”
  • “Coming off three weeks of mental and physical rest following the U.S. Open, he was a fountain of optimism Tuesday in his pre-tournament news conference. By Thursday evening, not even the friendly confines of the John Deere Classic seemed to be on his side.”
  • “For the first time in 11 years, Johnson failed to break par at TPC Deere Run, bogeying the 18th hole to card a 1-over-par round of 72. The last time the Drake alum was over par in any round in the Quad Cities was the third round in 2008, when he shot a 75 on his way to finishing 69th.”
Full piece.
4. Marathon: Lewis lurking
Golf Channel’s Randall Mell…”Stacy Lewis would like to take a decision out of U.S. Solheim Cup captain Juli Inkster’s hands.”
  • “Lewis would like to make the American team on points, rather than rely on a captain’s pick.”
  • “With a 6-under-par 65 Thursday at the Marathon Classic, Lewis took a step in that direction. She equaled her best score since rejoining the tour as a mom this year.”
  • “Lewis is one shot off the lead in suburban Toledo, where she’s embraced as a hometown favorite. She was born in Toledo, and her parents grew up there.”
Full piece.  
5. Stricker leads Senior Players
AP report on the action…”Steve Stricker topped the Bridgestone Senior Players Championship leaderboard at 5 under with a hole to play Thursday when the first round was suspended for the day because of lightning and rain.”
  • “Coming off a victory two weeks ago in the U.S. Senior Open at Norte Dame, Stricker had a hole-in-one on the 184-yard, par-3 seventh at Firestone Country Club.”
  • “Play was suspended at 12:55 p.m., and called for the day at 5:05 p.m…”
Full piece.
6. “Things my grandma was hearing were really tough”
Golf Digest’s Joel Beall…”Kuchar did not reveal what his grandma read or heard, but has those in his life who keep him abreast of what’s being said about him.”
  • “Just the fact that she had called me to say, ‘I can’t believe what they are saying’ was hard, because I had a pretty decent idea from friends telling me, you know, ‘I can’t believe what this guy said,’ or ‘This guy really threw you under the bus,’” Kuchar said.
  • Yet, mentioned above, Kuchar continues to enjoy a prosperous year. He attributes the run to the advice of Phil Mickelson (who’s also had his fun with Kuchar). “He’s been one that says, ‘Listen, this is a tough deal,’” Kuchar said of Mickelson’s words. “He said, ‘I’ve been through way worse. It will pass. You keep being the guy you are and this will go away. Unfortunately it’s a tough situation you’re in, but just keep being the guy you are and time will heal.’”
Full piece.
7. Kendra Little’s struggle
Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols...”If I had success, I knew that was going to push me closer to the LPGA,” said Little, who knew a drug test would have revealed her higher levels of testosterone.
  • “But it also would’ve pushed me closer to having to deal with my gender. That was such an insane internal battle.”
  • “It was around the age of 12 or 13 that a doctor first told Little that she was both a boy and a girl. After that day, she never discussed AIS with her parents or anyone else. Once a month she’d get estrogen injections. Later, once every three months.”
  • Those days in the doctor’s office were the darkest. There Little had to face the fact that she was different. That this really was her confusing and complex reality.
Full piece.
8. No Cliffs at High Carolina?
Dillon Davis, Asheville Citizen Times (syndicated in Golfweek)…”A nearly 800-acre Swannanoa, Virginia, property that once was the intended site of a luxury housing community and a Tiger Woods-designed golf course has changed hands, but future development plans there remain unclear.”
“The property was slated to be part of The Cliffs at High Carolina, a neighborhood project featuring about 1,000 luxury homes and what would have been the first U.S. golf course designed by Woods straddling parts of the Fairview and Swannanoa communities. It was sold in April by David Straus of Straus Family LLC for about $15.3 million.”
Full piece.
9. Rain no concern for Royal Portrush
RTE Sport report…“There are no concerns about Royal Portrush links golf club ahead of next week’s Open Championship after heavy rainfall on Wednesday.”
  • “Footage emerged on social media of torrential rain and several puddles at the venue in Antrim. Retired Ulster rugby player Darren Cave posted the video on his official Instagram account today, but tournament organisers Royal and Ancient (R&A) have no worries about the condition of Portrush.”
  • “We had a lot of rain yesterday but the course coped well and we are happy with how it is looking,” an R&A spokesman told RTÉ Sport.

Full piece.

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